Let’s speculate. With Apple Silicon we have seen a very hard push towards “SOC” desktops: integrated GPU, RAM, and even flash storage. Connectivity, including PCIe, has essentially been relegated to TB.
Imagine a 2019 Mac Pro without DIMM slots and PCIe slots for GPUs. If you for a moment consider it might not even have internal storage bays (can be external via TB4 or else NAS) it starts looking a whole lot like the 2013 Mac Pro. And that’s just a stone’s throw from the Mac Studio.
What if there will never be a new Mac Pro? What if all we’ll end up seeing is a Mac Studio (perhaps a slightly larger variant to provide more cooling) with an M2 Extreme which is basically a single-die dual M2 Ultra with especially powerful GPU cores by virtue of massive cooling and no mobile pwr draw envelope. Ship it along with lots of TB4 ports (like the 2013 MP) and offer CTO for massive RAM and flash storage options. Let the Apple Store sell customized external solutions encompassing things like W6900X Duo or CDNA cards via TB (a new TB5 perhaps? – PCIe x8/16, v4, …) for the small but affluent professional community who needs that kind of resource.
When Apple announced the studio in March they also announced there was still one more system to migrate to Apple Silicon, and said it would be the Mac Pro.
Here’s what John Ternus said at the end of today’s event as part of wrapping up the Apple Silicon announcements “that leaves just one more product to go: Mac Pro, but that’s for another day”.
I suppose they could replace it with a super studio, but I’m sure there will be high-end customers who really want an apple Silicon version of the Mac Pro, with more internal expandability, perhaps the addition of GPU-only Apple Silicon processor upgrade cards.
There’s been two recent sightings of new Apple Silicon Macs, one on Geekbench and now another on Steam. In both cases it’s looking like a M2 Max, so not the type of material you’d expect in Apple’s highest end desktop. Could quite well be destined for the 14"/16" MBP though.
OT: I’d very much welcome a new M2 Pro/Max-based high-end mini. Looks like the Max might just remain reserved for the Studio and I’d be fine with that if the high-end mini (with still considerably better connectivity than the low end, not to mention RAM ceiling) just finally moves from Intel to AS.
Interesting speculation, hadn’t occurred to me before.
I’m writing this from my ancient 2010 Mac Pro, whose main attraction for me has always been that I can open it up, vacuum out the dust, and swap in RAM and drives and PCI cards whenever I please. But you may be right… time moves on, and technology is maybe the fastest moving part of it.
One (OK, two) minor/trivial questions for you… I’m into linguistic stuff, and I know a fair number of techie acronyms by heart, and can usually decipher ones I don’t know by looking them up on Acronym Finder. However, “CDNA” … they have eight meanings listed, and none in the “Information Technology” subset… so maybe “Context-Dependent Network Agent”? That sounds like the only tech possibility, whatever it means.
The other one I drew a blank on was “CTO”… a total of 85 definitions, of which 12 in the Information Technology subset… I always thought it meant “Chief Technology Officer” (corporate title) but maybe in your context you meant “Connection Timed Out” or “Computer Tasking Order”? Seems like I’m a little behind on my computer-addon-cards knowledge.
Sorry for the trivial questions. Good reminder, though, I think I’ll go vacuum out my Mac Pro now…
Don’t get me wrong, I see plenty user case for internally expandable large boxes. I run several Linux towers just like that at work.
But I think we need to perhaps reconsider a) how feasible that is in light of the tight integration brought by Apple Silicon and b) how relevant Apple thinks that customer segment remains. Recall back in 2013 they already thought they were ready to throw that whole crowd over board. In 2019 they appeared to reconsider that stance, however, the following lackluster progress (or, frankly, lack of follow through) and lack of any significant updates on that platform indicates either they weren’t really serious about it (perhaps just buying time, e.g. Mac Studio idea starting to develop) or they simply didn’t know what to do or how to do it right. Either way, here we are facing 2023 and they believe they have yet another chance. Regardless of which route they pick, let’s hope they get it right this time.
CTO = configure to order (what we do on the online Apple Store when we customize a system before purchase)
Well, I don’t know if Gurman really has a clue or is just making wind, but he says the M2 Extreme has been scrapped. Supposedly it would have led to a $10k Mac Pro and that’s just too niche for Apple to bother.
So that would leave us with a Mac Pro with M2 Ultra. Unless that system allows for some RAM/PCIe expansion that Apple Silicon has so far not supported, what would it offer over an Ultra Mac Studio? Disk bays lol. I guess it really comes down to what the M2 Ultra offers over what we’ve seen with its M1 predecessor.
If this is indeed true, I’d say it doesn’t bode too well for a new Mac Pro.
In that article Gurman says that it will, indeed, supposedly support RAM and storage expansion, as well as other components. And, fwiw, they’re also supposedly working on an iMac Pro Apple Silicon update.
I just want that M2 (or whatever) Mac Mini. The RAM ceiling on the original really is the bottleneck and I wonder which comes first, the new Mini or a usable all-Asahi-Linux install on my M1 Mini so I can use it as the perfect ARM-powered homelab server.
I wish Apple had made the 2019 MacPro more affordable. In 2011, I purchased an entry-level MacPro5,1 for $2328. In 2019 dollars that would be $2650. So when the 2019 MacPro was introduced I was hoping for an entry-level price of $3k. Instead we got a $6k machine.
I’m still using that 2010 MacPro. Since then, I’ve upgraded the GPU and CPU, replaced HDDs with SSDs, increased RAM, and added a PCIe SSD.
Yep, the original cheese grater MP was very good value. It had a low entry price and was very expandable so you could buy one for cheap and then soup it up as you went.
The 2013 trashcan was not nearly as expandable and already substantially more expensive.
The 2019 MP was very expandable again, but just bat **** crazy expensive. No wonder they hardly sold any.
I’m not at all convinced we’ll see another MP. But if we do it has to offer great expandability to justify an additional product next to the Studio. OTOH that also means it by no means will come in cheap. The least expensive M1 Ultra Studio is $4k and that’s with 1TB of storage.
My much loved Cheese Grater still holds a position of honor on my desk. I do turn it on and off every so often to make sure it is still alive and stays alive. it’s still on my top of the pops collection of outstanding products.
So according to Mark Gurman (who I’m still not really sure about) the new AS-based Mac Pro supposedly will come in the same enclosure as the old Xeon Mac Pro, but more importantly, it will NOT include support for adding RAM (as on all other AS we’ve seen so far).
If we for a moment assume this rumor is accurate, if this M2 Ultra Mac Pro doesn’t offer a lot of PCIe expansion (which we so far have not seen supported by AS) — perhaps what Gurman is cryptically referring to as “SSD storage slots for graphics, media, and networking” — it would essentially represent a Mac Studio with internal drive bays and an oversized case. Considering the Mac Studio Ultra starts at $4k, I’m not sure how much demand I’d expect for such an M2-based Mac Pro.
This, surprisingly, would be coming from the same Apple who no longer sees demand for a larger iMac, smaller than cutting board size phone, or AP base stations. OTOH it is fair to point out that even the old Xeon Mac Pro started out at $6k. Of course we’ve never heard anything about its sales so it’s probably safe to assume they are very few but presumably somehow important to Apple.
Perhaps this time they’ll throw in the $400 wheels for free? Nah. Who am I kidding?
Mark German has been saying a lot of things that haven’t come to pass. I’ll believe it when Apple actually ships it (it’s not even enough that they announce it anymore).
That being said, I think Apple WILL release a Mac Pro, but it won’t be what people normally think of it. I’m guessing it’ll be more of a Studio Pro, more than a traditional Mac Pro. Expandability will be limited to storage and possibly slots for other items, but no RAM or video card expansion.
But who knows, Apple has been known to surprise me a few times in the past.
I still think that Apple might have specific processor upgrade slots for GPU only Apple Silicon (well, maybe with RAM as well) using a proprietary bus for interconnection to the Ultra.
Remember how Apple said that the M1 Ultra was just two M1 Pro chips with an interconnect in the Silicon (“Ultrafusion”)? I’m thinking that they figured out a way to make that interconnect a bus for GPU boards and maybe even unified RAM upgrades.
It could be. If they can fuse two Pro chips to make a Max, and two Max chips to make an Ultra, then perhaps they can fuse two Ultras to make an “Extreme” (or whatever they would call it). But that only tells us that it’ll be pretty darn powerful.
Addressing expandability might mean de-coupling the RAM and Video chips from the processor itself – unless as you suggest, they figured out a way to have “expansion slots” for additional RAM and video cards that are so tightly integrated that it equals the M processor with both those actually part of the chip itself.
Quite frankly, that is the ONLY way this Mac Pro gets any traction. The whole point for people that buy this type of rig is the ability to expand it when and how they want. If they lock RAM, SSD storage and Video to the processor with no way to expand it, the new Mac Pro will end up like the “trash can” Mac Pro of the past.
That’s been rumored for a while, but there is a more recent rumor that Apple has had trouble fabricating this doubled Ultra and has abandoned it for the M2 generation. So a presumed Mac Pro would come with an M2 Ultra.
Those same rumors still suggest that a Mac Pro will come in the same case (or a similar case to) the exiting Intel Mac Pro. What’s the point of that if there is no expansion available?
It suggests to me that either some part of these rumors are somehow false (not unlikely), or there really will be a way to expand an Apple Silicon Mac Pro when it comes. Not just with storage, but with video cards, GPU, RAM, and/or a second M2 Ultra.
They only did that once: to fuse two Maxes to an Ultra. The Max is not a dual Pro. It’s a Pro with more GPU cores and twice the mem b/w. But the CPU cores and core count are unchanged (though there is a low-end Pro with deactivated CPU cores on an otherwise identical die).
Recent rumors have indicated the Extreme is not going to happen. Now those rumors might be wrong of course, but at the same time we know that while there have been Geekbench sightings of a couple unreleased Apple Silicon models, some kind of dual Ultra has never been among them so far.
Indeed, you would think for this new Mac Pro to have a spot in the lineup next to the Mac Studio Ultra it needs to offer either user-expandable RAM or graphics, ideally both. Just a bunch of internal drive bays is meh and flash expansion is something people could already get with the Studio.
The problem with that is just that neither RAM nor graphics has ever been expandable on Apple Silicon. In fact, integration of those two is one of the key ingredients of what made Apple Silicon such a huge improvement over the Intel stuff we had before.
Now it’s entirely possible Apple has figured out a way to do just that. It’s just that nothing of that has so far leaked out. Still possible? Sure. In fact, that’s what our money should be on at this point. Because without it, it’s hard to imagine the new Mac Pro will be anything but an overprices niche gadget hardly anybody will take seriously or consider in earnest.
Apple never tells anyone about designs before they are released, so everything here is speculation.
That having been said, the rumors I saw most recently seem to indicate that the new Mac Pro will have its RAM built-in to the SOC, but there will be PCIe expansion slots. So internal NVMe storage and GPU should be possible.
As for how they could support RAM expansion, that’s a very interesting question.
I personally think it should be possible to design a SoC where the on-board RAM is treated like cache for external RAM.
So maybe you’ll have 64GB (or 128 or 256) of on-board unified memory that caches several TB of external DDR5 memory. Or you could choose to not install any external memory and just use what’s built-in, depending on your requirements.
But this is all just speculation based on what I assume should be possible.
He claims Apple Silicon will not offer support for external GPUs either. So that leaves no RAM upgrades and no GPU upgrades. Just storage. And that’s making people nervous.
Looks like either the M2 Ultra will have to introduce some new external interface (like an external version of UltraFusion for aftermarket GPU expansion) or there will be a lot of long faces when the Mac Pro a.k.a. Mac Studio in a big box gets released.